Day in and day out, people are faced with choice after choice after choice. They are inundated with advertisements, whether it be on social media, in the car, or walking down the street. Soon, all this becomes a fuzzy, saturated blur in the background of a person’s mind. The “old ways” of traditional advertising don’t carry the weight that they once did. Today’s consumers want to feel something, anything, that is uplifting, fun, positive or helpful in some way. They crave experiences, whether it’s a “try it before you buy it,” a tug on the heartstrings, or fun and memorable experiences like the Share a Coke experiential tour. These personalized experiences that foster emotional connections do something big, really big. They create awareness for brands in ways we’ve never seen before. And let’s not forget brand loyalty, experiences resonate with consumers long after the brand experience is over. The mark these experiences leave on consumers is why experiential marketing rules.
Experiential marketing is powerful because even though it is a form of advertising, it’s presented in such a subtle way, that it doesn’t feel like an ad. And consumer’s dig that. Consumers don’t even realize that they are being marketed to in most instances. Brand experiences are designed to allow the consumer to have fun with the brand, create a memory, or try a product, as opposed to shoving the brand in their face and saying, “buy me.”
Memory is a powerful tool when it comes to brand awareness and event success. When brands create a memorable experience, consumers walk away with a detailed visual map of the experience. The sights, the sounds, interactions with brand ambassadors, the games, and so forth. That experience converts into a brand impression, which leads to the potential for a new loyal customer. Additionally, it opens the opportunity for consumers to share the experience, online and offline, creating even more awareness.
Tip: Memories are not always positive. Therefore, attention to detail is critical. Cross your T’s and dot your I’s. Don’t rush through the planning stages, vet your vendors, and make sure you train the people representing your brand.
Experiential marketing events give brands the opportunity to create emotional connections. Face-to-face marketing fosters trust, loyalty, and community. A customer is much more likely to buy a product from a brand that they have personally connected with. Why? Because connections nurture emotions, whether it’s joy, inclusion, relief, and so on.
Tip: Brands must research their target consumer’s interests and demographics. Finding out what they like, dislike, and where they hang out is crucial to making the right connections in the right way.
Engaging experiential marketing experiences fuel reach. When brands create experiences that get people talking, it opens opportunities to continue the story. And that story lasts long after the event has concluded. Brands can extend their reach via blog posts, Instagram Stories, Facebook Live, and email campaigns. The best thing about reach is that it’s a two-way street. Experiential marketing is unique in that it provides consumers with a concrete offline experience that they can immediately turn into an online conversation. And those conversations can reach thousands of people, thousands of miles away in a matter of minutes.
Tip: Creating a hashtag or using a Snapchat geo-filter are excellent ways for brands to extend the consumer to consumer reach.
Experiential marketing differs from traditional forms of advertising in many ways. One way is that it’s completely voluntary. It harnesses things that people want and the experience becomes the “ad.” Shoving ads in a consumer’s face via Facebook, Pandora, YouTube, and the like, doesn’t register. People tune those ads out until they can get back to what they were there for – music, entertainment, connections, or a break.
Tip: When brands create integrated and interactive experiences that people choose to take part in, it holds their attention. Design your experience based on consumer FOMO (fear of missing out). Offer something tangible or intangible that they won’t be able to walk away from.
People always look out for the motivation behind certain actions. Is this a scam? Are they trying to sell me something? Experiential events exude authenticity. Why? Because it’s up to the consumer to decide whether they will become a customer after an interaction.
Rarely does a sales transaction ever take place in experiential marketing, nor should it. Brands that offer a fun and positive experience gain trust. Whether it’s giving away samples, providing an immersive and interactive element, or offering a gift card, those experiences stick. Additionally, utilizing brand ambassadors who can nurture relationships and convey brand messaging without being pushy is key, and that’s what consumers want. Case in point, years ago when Wii Fit came out, I went to Target to go “grocery shopping” (aka, mommy mental break) and Wii Fit had a huge footprint in the parking lot. Customers that visited the activation, and tried the Wii Fit received a $25 Target gift card. Can you guess what I bought that day? A Wii Fit. The brand ambassadors did such an amazing job selling me on the product with their brand messaging. And the gift card, that was icing on the cake.
Tip: Don’t be too pushy in trying to make sales, instead, create messaging that educates consumers. And make sure your brand ambassadors are personable and experienced. Experienced brand ambassadors know how to engage consumers on a conversational level without sounding like a salesperson.
As the saying goes, work smarter, not harder. Experiential activations allow brands to leverage one experience and turn it into something huge. Something that creates brand loyalty, trust, reach, and full-blown social movements. When done right, “smart” experiential campaigns become their own entity that has the capability of carrying a brand for a long time.
Since 2002, ATN Event Staffing has been the event staffing agency of choice for experiential marketing campaigns. Our exceptional brand ambassadors will take your brand activation to the next level by creating unforgettable interactions that create brand awareness and foster brand loyalty.